Lakes Article: Barrier
to keep Asian carp out of Great Lakes almost complete
March 27, 2009
A long-awaited permanent electric barrier
built to keep invasive Asian carp in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal out of
the Great Lakes could be up and running by the end of April, the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers said Thursday.
Workers spent the day repairing a series of
cooling pipes necessary to chill the heavy equipment that creates the underwater
"We're pretty confident, unless some other hiccup
comes, that we'll be able to get the barrier up," said Army Corps of Engineers
Col. Vincent Quarles.
The $10 million project has had to overcome technical
challenges and funding shortages since it was begun five years ago just downstream
from a still-operating but weaker "temporary" demonstration barrier.
the behemoth jumping Asian carp endemic to the lower Illinois River moved northward
as the barrier was imagined, designed, built and repeatedly overhauled.
surveys now show their main population as far upriver as Starved Rock State Park,
just below a lock and dam there. But one pioneering invasive carp was found in
2007 just 15 miles away from the demonstration barrier.
None have been found
north of there, where the Cal-Sag Channel intersects with the Sanitary and Ship
Canal connected with the Chicago River, officials say.
Ecologists and recreational
boaters hope to keep the rapidly breeding, high-jumping and gargantuan fish out
of the Great Lakes, where they could wreck havoc with coastal waters and make
their way into hundreds of other streams. They have already crowded native fish
out of the Illinois and Missouri Rivers, say state natural history managers and
Rusted and pitted coolant pipes caused the latest delay in sending
power into the permanent barrier, which was constructed a few hundred feet downstream
from the demonstration barrier.
Those pipes were replaced Wednesday and
Thursday, said Army Corps project manager Chuck Shea. The Corps said testing and
verification would continue for the next month--as would further safety checks.
existing barrier sends 1 volt of electricity into every cubic inch of water around
the barrier--enough to harm anyone, but especially a child or pet who fell overboard.
The permanent barrier is capable of sending four times that amount into the water,
The Corps has been working with the Coast Guard, industrial
interests that use the canal for barge traffic and local marinas to expand awareness
of the barrier.
The short version, said Shea: "Go straight through
this area. Don't linger."